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Street Talk

Dear Santa: I Want A Bag Load Of Preservation

By Susan Hart

Ralphie: “I want an official Red Ryder, Carbine Action, Two-Hundred Shot Range Model Air Riffle!”

Mom: “No! You’ll shoot your eye out!”

Santa: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

In 1983, “A Christmas Story” was released, as was my obsession with obtaining my own  Daisy Red Ryder BB gun. My sister got one first, then me. I did not shoot my eye out, but I did take aim at the radiator of my dad’s log truck.

The movie is set in the 1940’s. Footballs, baby dolls, BB guns, and Slinky’s were some hot ticket items then. With noses pressed against the window, kids dreamed of waking up Christmas morning to these modern toys. This picture of Parker’s 5 & 10 store is the sight kids in Water Valley saw in 1945.

Water Valley has made a lot of changes since then. Hot ticket items this Christmas are Wii’s, iPods, Plasma screen TV’s, and other mind-blowing electronics. Yet preservation is on the list of a couple of the Valley’s newest building owners.

Kagan Coughlin and wife Alexe van Bueren have taken on the renovation of the building seen in this beautiful picture. The Wagner building, located at the corner of Main and Wagner streets is going through some transformation. Years of multi use, changing with the times, and general wear and tear created quite a task for Kagan and crew.

The progress is starting to show. Kagan is returning to the original floor plan upstairs, adding in an apartment in the back. There are new transom windows for the facade and hand made half-rounds for the second story. His father constructed parts in Vermont, and Kagan has assembled them on-sight. The rest of the new windows are being built in Columbus, Miss.

After removing 7 dumpsters of garbage, Kagan is currently installing new plumbing, heating and cooling, and wiring. Plans are to repaint the exterior early 2009. He hopes to have the building weather tight by January.

“Generally, the project is much bigger than I first thought,” says Kagan. “Coupled with my first baby and number two on the way, and only having nights and weekends to work, it’s been a long haul, but we’re getting a lot closer.”

See Coughlin’s progress while you enjoy a free showing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in the first floor of the historic Wagner building. Saturday, Dec. 6 at 2:30 p.m. (See ad pg.6)

Another overhaul is being unveiled at the inaugural exhibit of Bozarts, a new art gallery and performance venue, 403 N. Main Street. This Friday, Dec. 5, from 6-9 p.m., the gallery is opening with a holiday miniature group show in time for Christmas shopping. Also open weekdays, from noon to 5 (except Wednesday) until Dec. 20th.

Bozarts features the diversity of arts in the areas of painting, pottery, glass arts, jewelry, photography, print making, wood and metal work, fabric and silk screen art, and other artistic expressions. 22 artists will show work at this exhibit, including five from Water Valley.  The building is also home to Valley Dance Company, owned by April Pullen, instructor.

“Bozarts is dedicated to the growth and advancement of the fine arts in this community. The gallery displays works of local, regional, and national artists on a rotating basis,” says Annette Trefzer, owner and curator. “The gallery’s standards of judgment follow those principles that reflect a reinvestigation of traditional aesthetic values and their relevance to contemporary education and life.”

Annette, along with husband, Mickey Howley, and craftsman Peter Buchholz have done an incredible renovation worth seeing. Structurally, the project includes major construction of supports and leveling. The team has built two load bearing interior walls, poured concrete column and wall to support the rear of the building, and installed five footings and five double pipe steel columns to support the front facade.

The non-structural improvements are what give this building its grand appearance. The front staircase has been replaced and enlarged. There have been two new restrooms added on the first floor. New heating and cooling have been installed, along with new wiring buried underground to all building services.

Mickey and Annette have focused on the details. “The prior lower facade was from the 1940’s. We’ve attempted to give the building a more original period look, yet with modern glass and door,”- Mickey Howley.

Details that were saved include the entrance light from 1930’s, re-wired and the tin-ceiling repaired and sealed. The repaired and re-glassed front door to second floor was salvaged from the Parker Building.     Other detail pieces that were saved and reused are door handles, locks, doors, glass, trim, and paint custom matched to colors found in the building.

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